It has been awhile since I posted, especially any writing, and I apologize for that. I’m sure I could make all sorts of excuses, but I hate doing that, so I won’t. Anyway, I promised in my Notebook section to post my lyric essay when I finished revising it (which I think I have), so now I am. I want to say thanks to my workshop group (who will likely never read this), and to my teacher Kati (who might) for helping me with some of the more stubborn lines in the piece. In all I’m quite fond of it. So, without further ado:
The Silence Between Stars and
There are certain things which stand out as impossible to me now. The way the seats lined the wall, all the way around the back. The lack of other passengers on a flight across the Pacific. The quiet. I remember my mother’s whispers, though not her words, and nothing else. No questioning stewardess, no engine’s roar. Nothing but…
The black of ocean below, broken here –and there- by the pale white crests of waves. And the endless, endless, endless blue-black of the sky, its infinity spattered by sparkling specks beyond number. My young mind stood still in awe of a vastness I could not comprehend. Forever above and beyond us stretched a miracle of light and shadow, and below the swells and surges of the unknowable sea, while we hung suspended in a cylinder of near-magic, surrounded by a silence made of a world muted (in memory) by beauty.
Though I could not have stood for long upon that impossible seat beside my mother, face pressed to peer past the glass, the moment looms large in my mind: shading my youngest years beneath a starry canopy of deepest night and drowning out everything else until the birth of my brother nearly a year later.
We two lay on our backs, against cold concrete, hands clasped in comfort, eyes fixed on the multi-hued dome of light above. The querulous glow of the city -behind and below- shaded the sky in pinks and purples, obscuring the pale pinpricks for which our sight strove. Though I had a long made habit of watching the sky in the hours between dusk and dawn, she had never stopped to look up from the ground which bound her. And though what we had was not to last, the moments we spent there, gazing upward and forward, go on (in memory) forever.
Surely the sounds of the city reached our love-struck ears, straining as they were for the warning of steps coming up the hill, that we might shield ourselves from the disappointed stares of our parents had they seen. And surely we spoke, for we chattered incessantly in every other moment of our time together. Even in those tense moments when she stole through the basement window of her father’s house, and hurried to the open door of my idling car, we whispered and laughed together. But…
Though I recall the softness of her hand in mine, and the warmth in her lips and eyes, I hear no sound. Ensconced in our private world of light and love, all is calm and quiet, sure and silent, with no hint of the tumult to come.
The four of us stood at the edge of the lake, marveling in the perfect stillness of its surface. It was our second night away from civilization, miles and miles deep into the wilderness of the Uinta range. Weary though we were, after hiking with our subsistence on our backs and a day of ravenously reveling in the freedom of the mountains, we were wide awake in that moment.
The sky above, unmarred by man’s intrusive glow, was so very crowded with little lights that the blue-black of night became a soft and soothing purple-blue. Blue like ocean depths, purple as mythical mountains majesty. Below and before us the perfect black stillness of the lake reflected back the glory of the stars above. Points of light etched in nature’s glass a clear path across the night, and seeing this I understood the wonder with which the ancients so often termed our galaxy a road through the heavens. And…
No sound broke that perfect moment. We marveled in unison, and no one of us spoke a word. No cars or trains or other people assaulted our solitude with sound. No animals called in the night, nor crickets chirped their delight. No wind whispered through the trees to mar the mirror surface before us, as though the world understood our awe and wished to share in it for a moment. We share it still (in memory).
This one is a little shorter than the first; but I felt it was better to post now at the end of a complete scene, than to cut off halfway through the next scene or delay posting till later this week. If you’re just joining us, start at the beginning: Part 1.
Company of the Damned, Part 2
Odi followed the man for some distance into the night. In the darkness he relied as much on the clopping of the horse’s hooves, and sharp scent of smoke from the cigarette the man had lit, as on the silhouette he presented against the night sky. Though his feet were sore and he was tired, Odi spoke no word of complaint when the man passed by seemingly suitable campsites. Instead he felt at the sharp edge of his stone, and let his eyes rove over the horizon.
After somewhat less than an hour they stopped at a stand of scraggly trees, which appeared only as a blotch of blackness against the gray-white sea of moonlit grass. The old gunslinger hopped down from his saddle, and turned for the first time to see that the boy had indeed followed him.
“Good lad. We’ll sleep here tonight. The ground’s hard and I can’a risk a fire, but yer welcome to me poncho if’n you need a pillow.”
With that he led the horse into the greater darkness of the trees, leaving Odi to follow -or not- as he chose. For a few long minutes the boy stood, searching the shadowy shapes before him and listening to the gentle whisper of the breeze dancing across the plains. When he saw and heard nothing suspicious, he slowly walked in among the umbrous leaves.
At first the swaying limbs of the grove blotted out the moon and stars, plunging him into a pitch dark gloom. He stumbled over roots, and felt sharp ended twigs stabbing at the soles of his thick calloused feet; and even once took a branch in the face, etching a line of pain across his cheek. But after a bit he came out into a small clearing, to find the horse already unsaddled and brushed down, and Jaime settling in against a tree. He glanced over at the boy briefly when he entered the clearing, then nodded over to a rumpled roll of cloth laying on the ground and closed his eyes. Odi looked from Jaime to the poncho and back again, before walking over to it and laying down. He lay very still in the dark, his stone clutched to his chest, but did not close his eyes.
Later that night, as Jaime lay sleeping, the boy stood in the moonlight, sucking his thumb and watching. He hefted the weight of his stone in his hand, and took a small step forward. When Jaime didn’t stir, he stepped closer. After a few minutes of silent, slow, progress, he stood over the sleeping man.
In sleep the hard edges of his face softened some, but he still looked like something carved from desert bedrock. Odi stood, watching the slow rise and fall of his chest for some time, before he raised the stone over his head, gripped in both hands. Poised to kill, he rose to his tip toes, when his eyes caught on the soft green of an apple that had rolled from Jaime’s pack. Exhaling slowly, he lowered the stone and turned to walk away.
“Smart move, boy. It’d have been a real shame to kill you.”
Odi glanced back in time to see Jaime close his eyes once more, and the flash of moonlight on the barrel of his six-gun as he tucked it back in its holster.
“Now get some sleep, I aim to rise with the sun.”
Odi stumbled back to where the poncho lay, letting the weight of his stone fall to ground, before curling up and slipping into a deep slumber.
Continued: Part 3